Denver pioneers election techniques

How cool to rack up so many awards for election innovation. Clerk and recorder Debra Johnson and elections director Amber McReynolds at one of Denver's 24 round-the-clock ballot boxes. (Photo by Alton Dillard)
How cool to rack up so many awards for election innovations. Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds at one of Denver’s two dozen 24-hour ballot boxes. (Photo by Alton Dillard)

When it comes to voting, Denver is a pioneer, whether it’s convenient round-the-clock ballot boxes or ballot tracking.

The Denver Election Division  currently provides 24 round-the-clock ballot boxes where voters can drop off their ballots.  The boxes are in use now as voters drop off ballots for the Nov. 3 coordinated election. Other county clerks have followed suit. 

“We are a state-of-the-art election office that is one of the best in the country,” Denver elections director Amber McReynolds said. “We have spent significant time supporting counties across Colorado and the nation to export our ideas, innovations and service.  It is all worth it if we can improve the voting process for voters everywhere.  That is why it matters to us.”

In August Denver received a top award for its rollout of a tablet app for candidate petition signing, according to The Denver Post’s Jon Murray.

Denver Clerk and Recorder Deb Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds. (Photo by Alton Dillard)
Denver Clerk and Recorder Deb Johnson and Denver elections director Amber McReynolds. (Photo by Alton Dillard)

“Some candidates checked out tablets loaded with the app. Supporters signed on the screen, allowing the campaigns to quickly verify the person’s registration and keep a running total of signatures,” the Post wrote.

“That saved campaigns from the uncertainty that typically leads them to collect many more signatures than needed before turning in candidacy petitions.”

For that innovation,  the Election Center presented the Democracy Award to Johnson and McReynolds at its national conference in Houston. Denver’s election office won the same award in 2013, for a project that rolled out the use of iPads for elderly and disabled voters to mark ballots, the Post pointed out.

The division also came up with a ballot tracking program, much like consumers use when they track packages. Denver elections officials worked with a software company to create a program that alerts voters about the status of their ballot, such as it has been mailed, it is with the carrier, it is in the elections counting room and so on.  At least 10 Colorado counties are now using the system, as well as several other sates.

In addition, Denver elections officials have what is called WebEOC where they use the city’s emergency management system to track operational calls about elections. Because it utilizes the existing emergency management office, there is no cost to the voters. McReynolds said Denver recently worked with Boulder to help it develop its system.